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Ending 'In Home' Restriction For Medicare Mobility Assistance

Armen Hareyan's picture

Power Wheelchair Mobility

The SCOOTER Store announced its full support for revisions to the Social Security Act that would eliminate language restricting power wheelchairs and scooters obtained through Medicare to use inside a beneficiary's home.

Organizations representing people living with disabilities, such as the Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid Coalition (ITEM), have deplored the restriction, saying it unfairly limits Medicare coverage and prevents many people who need mobility devices from obtaining it.

Two members of the United States House of Representatives, James Langlevin (D-RI.) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN), have sponsored legislation that would amend the Social Security Act and significantly increase mobility for Medicare beneficiaries. Under the revision, beneficiaries could obtain power wheelchairs and scooters that allow them to perform daily activities outside of their home, such as going to church, the bank and grocery shopping.

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"It's clear that removing this restriction can vastly improve the quality of life for Medicare beneficiaries in need of mobility equipment," said Doug Harrison, CEO and founder of The SCOOTER Store. "Physicians want patients with mobility impairments to become as active and mobile as possible. This change in Medicare regulations is long over due, and will put the coverage criteria more in sync with today's medical practices."

The "in the home" language was originally drafted to differentiate between Durable Medical Equipment (DME) used in hospitals and nursing homes from equipment that was used outside of those facilities, such as in a beneficiary's home. Over the years, however, the government interpreted the language differently, and used it to restrict Medicare coverage to power wheelchairs and scooters that beneficiaries needed to perform daily activities exclusively in their homes.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) is likely to reintroduce legislation in the Senate, which would accomplish the same goal as the house legislation. Sen. Bingaman, with former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), last year sponsored the Medicare Independent Living Act, a measure that would have removed the restriction.

"We look forward to the day when seniors and people living with disabilities can obtain mobility equipment that will increase their mobility both inside and outside of their homes," Mr. Harrison said. "This legislation is a Declaration of Independence for seniors and people with mobility impairments. It can give them freedom and independence, and allow many people to engage actively in their communities."